1st vs. 3rd Person POV

Point of view. It’s a pretty important decision when you’ve decided to write something. Both 1st person and 3rd person have their respective advantages and disadvantages, just like anything else, but how do you decide what’s right for the story you’re working on?

For me, it’s something about the feeling of the story. Obviously, there are genre conventions – urban fantasy is probably 90% 1st-person, whereas epic fantasy is probably 90% 3rd-person. I think romance is usually 3rd, and science fiction can go either way depending on the preference of the author and how the story flows, but probably a majority is 3rd-person.

All three of my published works to date are 3rd-person past tense, because that’s what I spend the most time reading and it’s what I’m most comfortable with as a writer. Plus, it works best with the particular feeling of those stories – Elegy and The Corpse King, as tales of the Arbiters, tend to require a certain distance from the characters’ thoughts. They also are more serious characters, and their internal thoughts wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if delivered in 1st-person.

The short story that I’m working on now, called Sorcerer’s Code, is also set in Eisengoth and is a tale of the Arbiters, but I decided to work from a different character’s point of view – in this case, one of the supporting characters from Elegy‘s sequel (currently entitled Prophecy). This particular character is shrewd and dangerous but also somewhat cowardly, and due to the setting I chose for this adventure, it has more of an urban fantasy flair, despite firmly being an Eisengoth story.

One of the beautiful things about self-publishing is the ability to experiment. I don’t know if Sorcerer’s Code will be as well-received as Elegy (4.5 stars on Amazon & Goodreads) and The Corpse King (5 stars so far) have been, but I certainly hope that the people who have come to appreciate my work will enjoy the 1st-person perspective of this particular character, and also a look at the Arbiters from a different angle.

Any other writers out there? How do you decide whether to write in 1st or 3rd person? Do you ever use present tense instead of past? (I haven’t done it yet.) Inquiring minds want to know!

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Triumphant Return

I’m back!

Well, at least for the most part. I still have to get used to the fact that I now live somewhere completely different.

Anyway, I plan to get back to my writing as soon as I can get my head on straight, and once my brain recovers from the week of painting and moving heavy things. I still need to write the action scene that I was going to work on last weekend, since moving has pretty much eaten my entire life for the last 7 days.

Now I can go back to normal on Twitter and my blog as well. I’m looking forward to getting back in touch with all the folks I’ve come to know and like over the past couple of months.

See you all on the ‘Net!

I Still Exist…

I swear.

My wife and I closed on a house back at the end of August/beginning of September, and this week has been all about moving. I’ve barely had time to think, much less write anything – here, on Twitter or even on my projects.

The actual preparation and moving process ends this weekend, so after that things should become more normal again.

I am still here.

Review – The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III

(Note: I read The Black God’s War as an ePub provided by the author due to a LibraryThing Member Giveaway. The book is available from Kindle and Smashwords and the author’s website can be found here.)

The Black God’s War is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating epic fantasy books I have read in years.

Mr. Siregar has essentially taken the long route around, making the tropes of world-shaking fantasy feel new again through his fresh vision of world-building and his decidedly non-traditional-Western-European approach.

When one picks up a fantasy novel, there are certain things that you expect. You expect knights, and lords, and castles. You expect princesses and dragons, at least in some form or another. We expect a Western European world which generally has one thing or another in common with the high medieval/Renaissance era which is so familiar to all of us.

Somehow, Mr. Siregar manages to avoid all of that.

My favorite part of this book is not the incredibly strong core story, nor is it the highly believable characters. Those are wonderful things in their own right, of course, and they only serve to make this book better. My favorite part of fantasy is always world-building, and I have never seen a fantasy world like the one constructed for The Black God’s War. It feels fresh, it feels original – and that, my friends, is my favorite part of this book. From the Roman core of the Rezzians to the Indian/Buddhist roots of the Pawleon, Mr. Siregar has chosen an entirely different basis for his fantasy, and it is quite refreshing.

I will not go into plot, so as to avoid spoilers (and besides, the book’s description does a fine job of doing what little summary I could manage anyway) but the characters of Lucia, Caio, their father Vieri and Ilario are all very well drawn; Lucia and Caio especially often seem to leap off the page. Rao, Aayu and Narayani are equally well-done, and Mr. Siregar has done an excellent job adapting stereotypes to make these characters feel like real people, instead of cardboard cutouts.

This is not just one of the best independent books I have ever read; this is one of the finest fantasy novels (period, full stop, etc etc) that I have read in many years. My hat (had I one) goes off to Mr. Siregar for a well-told, well-edited and highly professional independent work that lends credence and credit to independent authors everywhere.

Final Score: 5 out of 5. You must read this book – you will not regret it.

Review: First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas

I read First Chosen as a Smashwords ePub. The book is available from Smashwords and Kindle.

First Chosen, the beginning installment of the ‘Tears of Rage’ series, is quite an interesting read. We follow Julianna, a young woman with a tragic past who is destined for greatness in a rather unique Celtic-inspired fantasy world.

The story really begins on her twenty-first birthday, when unfortunate events conspire to lead her into a horrible situation and really kick off the story. In order to avoid spoilers I won’t go into what happens, but destiny certainly gets the better of her in this one.

The opening of the novel, which reads somewhere halfway between a prologue and a Part One, could use refinement. As it is, we’re given background on our character’s childhood which could have been interspersed throughout the narrative, at the same time as we’re being bombarded with names and places and descriptions of things that make little to no sense because they’re delivered in such a rapid-fire manner. While I’m not a huge fan of the flashback, I think it could have been used to give us this information in a way that did not feel so overwhelming.

That said, however, once the story begins in earnest, it truly begins, and does not let go until we reach the end of this chapter, which I hope will be continued soon. The characters are well-drawn and the world is truly fascinating, with its talk of gods and miracles. It is an unconventional design for a fantasy novel, and it works very much to the author’s advantage. We get several POV characters to give us different angles on the world, and none of them seem superfluous.

If I’m not too much mistaken, I would wager that George R.R. Martin is one of Mr. Gallowglas’ inspirations for this particular project. The way certain characters are represented and the fact that we see all sides of the conflict with certain POVs being entirely irredeemable as people is what lends me that feeling. Gallowglas’ prose is starker (if you’ll forgive the pun) than Martin’s, however, and the story moves along at a significantly faster pace, avoiding getting bogged down in the repetition and pointlessness of existence that Martin sometimes succumbs to. This, of course, means a shorter story overall, and First Chosen clocks in at only about 60,000 words – though this is not at all a problem, simply an observation.

First Chosen is a strong entry into the indie fantasy market, helped significantly by its fascinating world and genuinely interesting characters. I give it a strong recommendation – though should you find yourself getting bogged down in the first few pages, I suggest pushing through it and letting the overwhelming backstory go by, using it as a reference later if you require it. Giving up would cause you to miss a truly engaging dark fantasy tale.

I wish Mr. Gallowglas all the best with his continued writing efforts, and I am genuinely looking forward to the next installment.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.

Kindle Formatting

When I was working on the formatting for THE CORPSE KING, I discovered an interesting quirk.

Amazon’s instructions indicate that you should use the Kindle Previewer application in order to determine whether you’ve correctly formatted your book. From what I’ve discovered, it appears that Kindle Previewer and the Mobipocket Viewer (which comes with Mobipocket Creator, the application used to create the PRC file that actually gets uploaded to Amazon) see things the exact same way. These are the two things which I used to format the Kindle version of ELEGY.

As I was working on THE CORPSE KING, though, I accidentally opened the file in my recently-installed Kindle for PC. It hadn’t even occurred to me that it would see things differently.

Well, it does.

For some reason, Kindle for PC reads the HTML formatting completely differently than the Kindle device, the Mobipocket Viewer AND Kindle Previewer. Why Amazon didn’t simply use the same core programming for Kindle PC I’ll never know, but things get all smushed together unless you specifically format for both.

If you don’t have Kindle for PC, I highly recommend you download it if you intend to publish on Kindle. I don’t know what exactly the demographics are for Kindle PC or how many people use it, but having your book appear completely different on two slightly different platforms is just not the way to go.

Technically speaking, the difference appears to be how Kindle for PC interprets the paragraph tag “<p>” vs. the “<br>” line break tag. Whereas the Kindle device (as well as Smashwords’ Meat Grinder) correctly interprets the paragraph tag and places lines between them when extra ones are used, Kindle for PC does not.

It is possible to format your book to work correctly on both Kindle for PC and the other devices via judicious use of the line break (<br> in HTML, or Shift+Enter when you’re editing your original Word Document).

The point is, make sure you check your PRC file in both programs before uploading. It might just save you some embarrassment later.

Launch: THE CORPSE KING

Formatting is really an adventure. I’ll get into that more in a different post, but it’s amazing how there always seems to be something you’ve overlooked.

Tonight, I have good news, everyone! I have officially launched my new novelette, THE CORPSE KING, just in time for the weekend!

The Corpse KingIt is currently available at Smashwords and will be available via Kindle’s network in the next 24 hours or so, judging by Amazon’s usual turnaround time.

I would like to note that my intention is for THE CORPSE KING to be a free download. I love the way this story came out, and it is a mysterious and engaging introduction to the strange world of Eisengoth and its zealous defenders, the Arbiters. Amazon requires that a book be offered with a price tag, however, and they don’t like the $0.00 price tag that I wanted for this one.

So, while it will be available at Kindle, please note that you can obtain a .mobi file (which will work on a Kindle device) via Smashwords for free.

I’m supremely excited to be sharing this story, and I hope that the many people who will read it enjoy it! There is more coming!